Mark Taylor

The stolid buccaneer

As batsman, Taylor was safe as houses; as captain, he was an adventurer

Sharda Ugra

October 17, 2010

Comments: 58 | Text size: A | A

Mark Taylor watches the replay of his dismissal on the big screen, England v Australia, 6th Test, The Oval, 3rd day, August 23, 1997
Mark Taylor: no dramas, mate © PA Photos
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Grace, flourish and a love of fireworks were the reasons Kim Hughes was my chosen one. He batted beautifully and behaved impeccably - even when beaten, which used to happen rather a lot with Australia then. So what if he was the subject of public meltdown when he quit the captaincy mid-series? Clearly this was also a very sensitive guy - even better. But then Hughes really blew it, agreeing to lead a rebel tour to South Africa. Nelson Mandela was still in jail then and we Indians took rebel tours very personally.

With Hughes gone, you couldn't turn to the Indian team and pick a favourite from among them because it was always all of them - together in the breach. As long as they just won, anyone could play hero. You would gladly line up and worship.

Exactly when Mark Taylor broke into this personal citadel of flamboyance and nationalism is tough to tell. But he's there - entrenched, like at the crease, probably chewing gum, like at slip. He wasn't stylish nor was he Indian. So how did he slip past the guards?

One season at a time, the unobtrusive way. Clearly more than the sum of his runs or the manner of his run-making, Taylor was a cricketer who could be both old-fashioned and new-fangled, belong to yesterday as much as tomorrow. A Test opener from an ancient mould, his vision and instinct came from a sharp, shiny toolbox. Taylor the batsman was a creature of unrelenting reliability, a frontman who did the dirty work so that the sons of Errol Flynn who followed had something to showboat on. Taylor the captain was an adventurous frontiersman who would have given Flynn a headache from keeping up with the twists and turns he engineered in the plot of a day's play. It was an intriguing combination, like discovering that the insurance agent next door is also world limbo-dancing champion.

Today's Aussies, skilled in the art of Waugh, and even Sun Tzu, preach to us the modern gospel of victory built on their pursuit of 300 runs a day, but it was an idea patented in the Taylor era. If Border stopped Australia from losing, Taylor taught them how to win. There was none of the trendy rubbish about mental disintegration either - Taylor never had a problem reining in his team, which included some who went on to become the Inflammables. Yet no one mistook his civility for weakness. Taylor's toughness was not a string of profanities but a state of mind. Off a cricket field, it's not a bad way to be either.

Before India was nominated the Final Frontier, there was only one forbidden kingdom - the West Indies. It was Taylor who led the first raiding party in 1995. He was minus his two opening bowlers, Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming, but orchestrated West Indies' first home series defeat in 22 years through the wicket-taking of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, (until then only a raw first-change), Paul Reiffel and Brendon Julian. The sheer daring of it.

In a business dominated by large, fragile egos and feet of clay, Taylor was Everyman. He didn't preen, gloat or, praise the Lord, sermonise, and even responded to the nickname Tubby. He was a very square left-hander with a huge appetite for runs and, evidently, good dinners. A decent, ordinary fellow but, and that was the magic, someone who made the extraordinary happen. Not so common after all.

In the 18 months and 21 innings between 1995 and 1997 that he didn't score a Test fifty, Taylor didn't miss a trick on the field. He won every series in that time, other than the one-off Test in New Delhi. Arriving in England for the 1997 Ashes tour, he was greeted by Heathrow immigration: "Mark Taylor, the captain... ah, but for how long?" An English tabloid wanted him to pose with a bat that was a metre wide. He refused. Yet he turned up match after match, to answer the inevitable questions about his form. Of course he was only being polite (an entry in his captain's diary of the time went, "Have to face the press now. Time to put on my smiley face again.") but did such a good job of it that after his final press conference of the tour, one reporter stood up and made a formal speech in appreciation of Taylor's conduct.

The trademark Taylor move of that series - a favourite piece of quiet heroism - came in the third Test. Down 0-1, still rusty despite a first-Test hundred, Taylor won the toss and had to choose: should he go with conventional wisdom, put England in on a damp Old Trafford wicket, and as opener give himself the chance to bat when conditions were better? Or should he face the unfriendly and unpleasant in order to give Shane Warne a chance to hustle England in the fourth innings? Taylor picked the tougher option and scored 2 and 1. But Australia won that Test and the next two and retained the Ashes. The captain struggled on, making only one fifty in the series after that.

So when he declared on 334 in Peshawar, eager to pursue any chance of his team's victory, and content to sit alongside Don Bradman rather than chase Brian Lara, it wasn't a moment of revelation or the great big exclamation point. It was reaffirmation, QED, full stop. Taylor, cricketer and captain, was always an honourable man. He wasn't named Mark Anthony for nothing.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at Cricinfo. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

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Posted by Meety on (October 19, 2010, 3:25 GMT)

@Roger C - interesting question re: How would Tubby captain the current team. I think he would do better than Ponting, I think Punter should follow his nickname & try more things. The only other potential captains in the Oz side at the moment are Katich & Haddin, but both only have a couple of seasons left. I think if Tubby was captain over the Ponting era(assuming he was in his prime & not over 40yrs of age!),Oz would of won the Mohali Test, drawn the 2009 Ashes series 2all in England & not lost the Home series v SA. I say this because in all of the mentioned instances (2009 Ashes where the first test was drawn), involved long partnerships with the tail. I believe that Tubby would of found a way to get a wicket. SA(all credit to them), were twice on the ropes and had huge low order partnerships that swung momentum completely. I don't want to bag Punter - he is brilliant at captaining ODIs (possibly the best ever), but he captains Tests like ODIs,too quick to send fielders to the fence

Posted by Meety on (October 19, 2010, 3:14 GMT)

@warnerbasher - mate you obviously didn't watch much cricket in the Taylor era. Tubby is without doubt the best Oz captain in the 30 odd years I've watched cricket. He had an instinct that was almost supernatural, when to change bowlers, give a part timer a bowl, put a fielder here. Border used to bowl Warne mercilessly, Taylor would bring him on more sparingly, or even have him open the bowling. I witnessed a time where I think SA were doing well and he brought Ponting onto bowl, & he broke a big partnership. His slips fielding was unbelieveably good, he once won a man of the match award in a low scoring ODI where he scored 10 runs but held 4 amazing catches, I think he was defending a total around 140 off 50 overs. The only other Oz cricketer that could of been a better captain was Warne, but unfortunately @ Test level we will never know... @Shom Biswas - hard to say whether Benaud was a better captain or not, he was highly regarded for a long time in Oz.

Posted by rick333 on (October 18, 2010, 23:33 GMT)

@ Truemans_Ghost-Yep It is sad that you are trying to generalize few negative comments here with an identity of Tendulkar fan club.

Posted by ElectronSmoke on (October 18, 2010, 19:52 GMT)

@Trueman's_Ghost and Biggus - can't agree more! I am glad it didn't come down to "Taylor lacked ambition cuz he didn't chase 375 .." . @muzmeister - everyone is entitled to their opinion - for Taylor it mattered that Bradman remained atop the list, for Hayden it didn't - doesn't make the former pathetic. In fact - a timely declaration allowed AUS a shot at the victory rather than him going on to make 400* and the test ending in a bland draw. There in lies the greatness of Taylor. Like Brearley before him, he was sometimes carried into the team purely for his tactical nous. That he was held in such high regard says something (especially in the AUS set up where players like Gillespie, Martyn and Bichel etc. were handed the pink slip faster than they could utter "decline"). His aggression was his mental steel than his foul mouth; and his opponents knew that. He inherited a strong team and left behind a legacy of a powerful one. Lovely piece Sharda! Thanks!

Posted by Biggus on (October 18, 2010, 13:58 GMT)

@Rajrele-No doubt, there was sledging when Tubbs was captain but most of the time I'm satisfied that it didn't cross the line. I suspect W.G. Grace had a bit to say back in his day, and when I was batting on the weekend the fielding team had a little go at me too, but there was nothing nasty, abusive, or physically intimidating in it and I'm cool with that. You're out in the field a long time and I'm inclined to think a little good-natured banter breaks the ice and sets the tone for a good day and after game drinks and chat. If you can't do that after stumps then it probably has gone too far and I abhor that. With regards to Tubby's captaincy the thing I always admired was his ability to feel the pulse of the game-to sense the moment for something a little unorthodox, much as Ian Chappell had for instance when he would whip Doug Walters into the attack, and bang, a wicket falls. Doug was to all intents and purposes an innocuous trundler but cracked a lot of big partnerships.

Posted by rajrele on (October 18, 2010, 10:26 GMT)

am surprised at some of the aussie comments here....taylor took on a good team from border who had saved the boat from capsizing.....taylor had a good team which he moulded into a great one, mind you the players still werent great or world beaters, but windies 95, 97 ashes, caning SA got mcgrath and warne on the road to greatness, many of taylors techniques and strategems are still used by ponting...waugh just came in, saw world cricket was going through a lean phase and accelerated the domination..made taylors discreet sledging overt, but had talylor not displayed his leadership from 93 to 98 aus would not have had the completeness it had for the next 10 many of his principles are proven...always bat first on a tough wicket, be ready to wear a few bouncers, dont rely on 1 or 2 bowlers...use swing, seam, line & length and spin, play only and only for results....Aus cricket gained big time from him, but you cant say that he was anti sledging, he allowed it cleverly....

Posted by D.Nagarajan on (October 18, 2010, 8:51 GMT)

Allan Border built an Australian team then Mark Taylor brought into the Australian team a desire to win overseas (outside of England) , they started giving some value to performances in to the sub continent then they logically progressed to a ruthless level under Steve Waugh. Taylor was the perfect fit between the other two greats.

Posted by HLANGL on (October 18, 2010, 7:24 GMT)

Mark Taylor is simply the man who transformed a very competitive side yet to beat more fancied WIs into a set of world beaters who would beat any side on a regular basis.At least he's the man to carried the mantle from Border to Steve Waugh, thereby nurturing some of then raw tallents such as Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Glen McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer, etc. into masterful players who would become considerable forces in the game 5-10 years later.Allan Border is definitely the pioneer; he's the man who initiated it.Taylor took the mantle, & made sure the efforts of his predecessor wouldn't go in vain & would only get better in years to come. Steve Waugh then carried the mantle for few years. And then we ended up seen the peak, in Ricky Ponting's era.During 2002-2007 the Austrailians were simply the best in the world, no one could match them except for few miccups, expecially the Ashes in 2005.It's true that they are no longer the force they used to be since then after WC2007.

Posted by Kunal-Talgeri on (October 18, 2010, 6:53 GMT)

@cricket__fan: Dude, go and read some cricket articles of the 1990s. If you don't know Sharda Ugra or Rohit Brijnath, get some education. You are a philistine in the universe of Indian-cricket writing. Wake up!

Posted by Truemans_Ghost on (October 18, 2010, 6:30 GMT)

Biggus, Amen to all you say!

Posted by Biggus on (October 18, 2010, 4:45 GMT)

@ Truemans_Ghost-Yep, I know how it gets on these comment pages. I'm 47 but I'm still naive enough to believe that cricket should be a gentleman's game. Whilst often player's behaviour is less than perfect I do think it's an ideal that we should aspire to, but then I'm a cricket fan as opposed to a flag-waving nationalist. Sadly we appear to be a dying breed mate. Looking forward to the next Ashes series. Cheers to you from Oz!

Posted by Markus971 on (October 18, 2010, 3:39 GMT)

Just imagine if S.Waugh or R.Ponting had batted for the first 2 days in an Asian Test Match & not declared an hour or 2 before stumps on the 2nd day??!! ---They would have been "Tarred & Feathered" by the worlds Media for not going for a Win, but adding to the boredom of drawn out Test Matches & Series!!! --O.K there was only 69 overs bowled on the first day, but there were 174 bowled by the end of the 2nd!! --I like M.Taylor generally for his contribution to Aussie cricket but 'come on' we all don't have to Love M.Taylor because I.Chappell does.

Posted by Markus971 on (October 18, 2010, 3:18 GMT)

Talk about seeing through "Rose Coloured Glasses", ..Taylor taught them how to Win!? come on. It was the Waughs, Warne, 95-97 that really Lead them to Success...., M.Taylor & Verbal's go 'hand in hand'!! some real ugly stuff! "Not a string of profanities but a state of mind?? (' The inflammables! grew up during M.Taylors Reign) Also He didn't do much to help R.Ponting during His Time... --But the blame always goes to S.Waugh for the M.Slater & G.McGrath on field explosions When both were older & more mature.... Because of His greater success. --- This for many - was & still is- the perfect way to knock the Australian Pysche& S.Waughs & R.Pontings Teams, back to Earth!

Posted by   on (October 18, 2010, 0:32 GMT)

i donno abt this guy but, i am in love wid dis article i mean mark taylor

Posted by cricket__fan on (October 18, 2010, 0:10 GMT)

Who cares about the author's views? Is the author an "expert" on cricket? Cricinfo should stick to proper cricket journalists who understand cricket, know a lot of the history of the game and then write about various aspects of cricket or cricketers.

Posted by analyseabhishek on (October 17, 2010, 19:16 GMT)

An beautiful article on a man who has not been given his due. Mark Taylor endured some tough times- the '96 world cup, a subsequent disastrous Indian tour and a prolonged slump with the bat in '97. He survived them all with grace and dignity. After a crushing defeat at Eden Garden's in '98, he did not lose his sense of humour even in the humdrum presentation ceremony- and led his team's fightback in the very next test with a fluent unbeaten ton to negotiate a tricky fourth innings chase. And about his 334 not out, well he must have given himself only a certain amount of time to break the record- (what is wrong with that anyway :-))- but did not allow himself another handful of overs next morning. This certainly was a gesture of a bygone era!

Posted by waspsting on (October 17, 2010, 19:10 GMT)

One of the only gentleman Australian cricketers. showed that you don't have to behave the way those guys typically do (badly) to keep your edge. for playing in the proper spirit, Mark Taylor is a jewel in crickets crown. Don't like his commentary much, though - reeks of more bias than i would have expected seeing his conduct.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 18:21 GMT)

The only thing missing from Taylor's CV is a World Cup trophy but it was Steve Waugh who changed the attitude of the whole Australian team. It was ugly, arrogant but the fact they had the amazing ability to bite back even when had their backs on the wall, makes it even more special. Ponting simply capitalised on Steve's team; two WCs (without losing a single match) is simply special but his captaincy was always going to be put into question when the greats like McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Lee, Gilchrist would retire...and boy it is being put into question now. But it would be extremely insensitive to say that Ponting is bad captain due to rather inconsistent and Un- Australian performance which has seen them slip into no. 5 in test cricket...everyone will have ups and downs but I think, for his own and team's sake, Ponting should step down. You had a great 8/9 years as captain mate but now is time to put responsibility on Clarke's shoulder for the long term future.

Posted by vrghosh on (October 17, 2010, 15:18 GMT)

Ugra's best one in recent time... Tubby was a bridge between Border n Waugh Empires... a polite flag-bearer.... The present Aussie crisis must be solved if Ponting converge his game plan as Taylor did... Once again my salute to Tubby... for playing a part of ethical cricket... 334* Runs @ Peshawar.. isn't it GUTSY.. !!!

Posted by YogifromNY on (October 17, 2010, 15:17 GMT)

Taylor was a super captain, for sure! Talented player, honorable, tough as nails, but not boorish. Exactly the sort of advertisement the game of cricket needs. He paved the way for Steve Waugh to make the Aussie team all-conquering heroes. I am an Indian supporter who grew up when Gavaskar was in his final years as a player and so saw the different eras pre and post-Taylor. Have to agree with this article! And he is a wonderful commentator to boot!

Posted by Truemans_Ghost on (October 17, 2010, 14:19 GMT)

Biggus, you are surprised anybody had anything negative to say? If a player had Bradman's batting, Marshall's bowling, Brearley's captaincy and Gilchrist's sportsmanship he would still be abused on here. What IS remarkable is that it didn't turn into a debate about how good Tendulkar is after the first 10 comments.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 13:08 GMT)

Every team has gone through eras when they were down and it Indians, Aussies, Englishmen, Windies and the rest. In a team game with greater responsibility on the captain, Taylor was really good. The one under whose tutelage, young players found confidence...which later led to the creation of a world class and dominating australian team (although Steve Waugh too had a role to play, but well this is a team game mates). A well written article...

Posted by RogerC on (October 17, 2010, 11:40 GMT)

Taylor enjoyed the benefits of the hardwork Border put in. But he did it without arrogance, so he needs to be applauded. He had a great team like Clive Lloyd had, so captaining such a team wasn't rocket science. It would be interesting to see how his captaincy works if he is captaining the present Aussie team.

Posted by evenflow_1990 on (October 17, 2010, 11:39 GMT)

fantastic article. he was always a gentleman on and off the field.

Posted by Chris_P on (October 17, 2010, 11:38 GMT)

@muzmeister. I would add further to Ross Campbell's note and state that you probably never played a serious game of cricket in your life. Do yourself a favour and go into the archives and have a look at the scorecard. Taylor was not out at the end of the 4th day, declared overnight to give his team an outside chance of victory. What would you have him do? Bat for 1 ball, waste 10m mins & 3 more overs for the change of innings for personal glory? The fact is, that off the last ball of the day, he smashed a short ball that was fortunately stopped by the short leg (who was ducking for cover) so he was still trying for runs at the end. To warnerbasher, 2 days for 334 runs in INDIA? You think that's slow? Shakes my head at the total lack of understanding (& intelligence) shown about cricket. You think captaining a side of champions flows easily? I guess his other successes at captaincy at state level & grade were flukes? Grow up & smell the coffee.

Posted by Biggus on (October 17, 2010, 11:22 GMT)

I'm a little surprised to see negative comments here. I would have thought that it was almost impossible to dislike tubbs. As an Australian he brought us many victories but none of that rather embarrassing ugly Aussie stuff that has become so commonplace, but really, no matter where he hailed from I would admire the fellow. To my mind I'm right with the author-I think he was an ornament to the game I love.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (October 17, 2010, 11:19 GMT)

In my mind this is how the past few Australian captains have gone. Allan Border turns a fragile Australian team into a tough never say die group of men. Mark Taylor turns those never say die men into winners. He makes sure they don't win out of desperation, he makes sure they win convincingly. Steve Waugh is handed captaincy - he does his job. Once he realises Warne and McGrath do everything for him, he begins to twiddle his thumbs while waiting for the day to end. Finally, Ricky Ponting sits down having a cold beer and kicking his feet up - Warne and McGrath retire. Ricky forgets how to play cricket, but now he doesn't have that cold beer.

Taylor is clearly the better captain of the four. Border is the guy who made the canvas. Taylor is the painter who painted a magnificent piece of art. Waugh is the admirer of the painting. Ponting is the guy who puts the painting at the back of his couch and doesn't look at it again.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 10:50 GMT)

@BillyCC - the only ground rule being that Steve W won with the team that Taylor created, the only difference being Taylor/Slater being replaced by Hayden/Langer. Steve W was excellent, but I have never seen a captain better than Mark Taylor.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 10:49 GMT)

Very good article. He paved the way for the Waughs and Pontings to have a fantastic side. I can still remember the series in 1995 in the carribean when Australia beat the West Indies that had an attack comprising of Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, Winston and Kennie Benjamin all in their prime. Back in 95', to beat the Windies in the Windies was a phenomenal achievement, a feat most teams then could not think of achieving.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 10:45 GMT)

I've heard him as a commentator, and will not be surprised if he turns out to be the next Richie Benaud (tricky accent though, for non-Aussies). And probably Tubby was a better captain than Benaud, I don't know, what do the old-timers say? And oh yes, an honourable man.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (October 17, 2010, 10:14 GMT)

Todays cricket in such a time of advercity as match fixing, spot fixing and big dirty IPL money need strong leaders and clean and amicable cricketers as mark taylor. Even while doing commentry he never shies away from condemning players when they seem to have crossed the line. I guess aussies wldnt have lost a talent like andrew symonds if taylor was incharge of that ill fated sydney test. Many things happened but pontings conduct and overall body language was a disgrace during that perticular series. He cld have done well to have a quite word with Tubby then.

Posted by neiljac on (October 17, 2010, 10:00 GMT)

I always enjoyed watching Taylor play and listening to him in interviews. Thoughtful, dignified, and respectful. The only sportsman I've ever considered writing to thank for what he'd done.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (October 17, 2010, 9:40 GMT)

In a world where the image of Australian cricket and cricketers always seems to defined by loudness and arrogance i always like to think there is a big majority in the sport that is in the image of Mark Taylor. Good bloke , honourable man and in love with the spirit of the game. The best captain Australia have had in the modern era and easily the most dignified.

Posted by Aussasinator on (October 17, 2010, 9:39 GMT)

He is Australia's best captain ever. Any discerning cricketer or critic would have to admit that. Made it really easy for Steve Waugh, who really had nothing to do as skipper, so resorted to sledging as his value addition to Oz cricket.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 9:21 GMT)

To muzmeister, You are obviously an individual who doesn't understand the man, the situation at hand or the game at large. The game of cricket is more than individual achievement, and the team is paramount especially in the test arena. As a comparison in additude to the game, pay attention to Tendulkars comments after the recent test- all deflection from his personal achievements, focused on the team and the result for the team, coupled with an appreciation of his place in history. Thats what makes champions, not the look-at-me-aren't-i-great attitudes of more recent arrivals on the scene. You are a disgrace if you cannot see the basic decent humility in Taylors declaration, something here in Australia we actually love from our sports stars. Its why we loved Waugh but are kinda ambivalent about Ponting.

Posted by smalishah84 on (October 17, 2010, 8:49 GMT)

To boot he is probably the best commentator to emerge from Australia after their big 4

Posted by warnerbasher on (October 17, 2010, 8:43 GMT)

Should have been dropped well before he got the 334 (which took 2 days). There was something very Brearleyesqe about that period with Taylor's batting and it was most un-Australian watching this dud fail innings after innings and still keep his place. As for his captaincy what specific magic did he weave? Could it be that he had the services of McGrath, Warne,the Waughs as well as Punterthat assisted in his success. Because the reality is apart from his catching at 1st slip he certainly didn't contribute much

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 7:12 GMT)

superb article...Taylor was the one who set the Australian juggernaut rolling.His work ethic was based on Border and the xtra bit of adventure he took Australia to the pinnacle of cricketing success

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 6:43 GMT)

A forgotten player by Aussies in their credit for team rise to victoies.

Posted by Moin.Pasha on (October 17, 2010, 6:09 GMT)

Really good article. One of my all time favorites, taylor was a very good captain and person and may be an average player. He was very gracious in defeat as well.

Thanks for the article!

Posted by Kunal-Talgeri on (October 17, 2010, 6:04 GMT)

Mark Taylor was honest, as batsman and at slips. He told his team in 1996 not to feel victimised about Indian conditions. He reined in young Jason Gillespie and, more famously, McGrath. He speaks o ho swiftly. Scored a match-winning hundred in my city, Bangalore. As a fan, I saw shades of Mark Taylor in Rahul Dravid when the latter was skipper. From his presence at slips to the onus he laid on the team being well behaved, what allowed Taylor to flourish though is that the Australian system has the imagination and faith to patronise all types of leadership as long as the skipper was a high performer to begin with -- be it in the Chappelli era or Taylor's. Miss the Mark Taylor-styled cricketers today.

Posted by muzmeister on (October 17, 2010, 5:58 GMT)

There was no honour in Tubby declaring for the same high score as D Bradman. It was cheap and pathetic. He was a good captain, good batsman and great slip fielder but declaring on the Don's high score was pathetic then and it is pathetic now.

Posted by fueltofire on (October 17, 2010, 5:54 GMT)

Mark Taylor always had " its the team that is the first priority " , an unselfish mind or a corner stone who could always bear the burden of the team.....might be because of his leadership which made the aussies get another calm & composed mighty figure at the centre the Waugh's ,surely the way mark led his team would slowly evoke the leadership skills in Steve Waugh

Posted by Nihontone on (October 17, 2010, 5:19 GMT)

I always admired Mark Taylor and have always felt that he was definitely underrated, both as a batsman and a captain. It was he who laid the foundations that Steve Waugh built his team on. Thanks so much for that article, Sharda!

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 4:56 GMT)

He was also an architect of one of most debated questions of my generations. TO have a specialist one day team and a test team. In the end, Australia did have that. and fortunately for them. it unearthed brilliants talents of Gilly. His slump was one of the longest ones in international cricket but his captaincy and his love for a scrap took him ahead. thats what i like in a captain. well done tubby.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 4:39 GMT)

As accurately worded as a portrait of Mark Taylor, and what he stood for, can be. Was a pleasure to read through it and remember those moments. Probably MSD has a bit of liking for Taylor, going by his conduct. May he become as good a skipper. I still remember a Test in that 1997 series (probably the 4th one) when there was enough lead and England were expecting lunch time declaration on 4th day with Reiffel etc batting. He refused to give England what they expected. Abt 20 mins of post lunch batting followed against conventional wisdom..but the ravage of it brought up more wkts at end of day.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (October 17, 2010, 4:34 GMT)

That innings of 334 in Pakistan came after a very long dry spell which was as good a reason to go on chasing other bigger scores in Test cricket.And frankly speaking, no result looked possible when he declared. But that was simply not Mark Taylor. He was an Australian all the way as they used to be before.Images of Neil Harvey and Norman O'Niell come to mind. Not what we see now.He was the one who set Australia on their march towards being the major cricketing nation with that epic vanquishing of the West Indies in 95.I can never forget the quick gum chewing of this very doughty charecter. Though he was a south paw, his batting seemed workmanlike like a right handed big scorer.Inside of the very Australian persona, Mark Taylor, alias Tubby, was a very principled man.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 4:34 GMT)

Great article Sharda! Mark Tayor was the best captain Australia has had in the last 25 years in my humble opinion. Tactically he was very astute. The hundred he made in the first test in 1997 (despite us losing) is one of my fave Taylor memories. It certainly wasn't his best, but without it he probably wouldn't have lasted the series. Border was also very good and dragged Australia out of the doldrums. Waugh has a great record but he inherited a great side at a time when many of the other teams were not as good as they are now. What happens with Ponting in the next couple of years will determine where his place is amongst these past captains.

Posted by NeilCameron on (October 17, 2010, 4:27 GMT)

After the 1989 Ashes series Mark Taylor was Australia's hero. I went along to the first Sheffield Shield match that season which was, I think, against Tasmania. NSW batted. Taylor was slow and was lucky to be dropped off a cut shot. Eventually I just forgot about Taylor, who was batting too slowly, and focused instead of the others. In Mid afternoon I suddenly realised that Taylor was in the 90s. As he hit his century I shook my head in wonder at the fact that he was accumulating runs so easily but without any panache whatsoever. I think the crowd was as surprised as I was that he had hit three figures - not because he was batting poorly (he wasn't) but that he did so without drawing attention to himself.

Posted by Rakesh_Sharma on (October 17, 2010, 4:09 GMT)

The biggest difference between these extraordinary breed of cricketers from Australia from 1990 to 200 was that each one were great players but made to share additional burden of leading their team till retirement even at the cost of personal performances due to pressure. Even take the case of bradman etc etc. They individuals nor public are concerned with individual cricket milestones nore are they encouraged by boards Unlike Tendulkars,gavaskars in India. I always think of a parent just telling the son to study without any botheration for board exams in India. Same is with some Indian cricketers once they are a bit above average. They are just encouraged for personal records even if it means nothing for team. Of course a country of just 25 million can be 5th on the olympics medal tally. No surprise.In India when a talent is recognized there is a wrong notion of it being the only one and they can block spots for a generation.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2010, 4:08 GMT)

Damn fine write up. I'd just been in Australia for a couple of years and started watching cricket one or two years into the Taylor era. He's always been one of my favourites since.

Posted by VipulPatki on (October 17, 2010, 3:23 GMT)

Great article. Most teams need a captain, if not a player, like him.

Posted by Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on (October 17, 2010, 3:13 GMT)

That comment aside, you are a splendid writer Sharda. "It was an intriguing combination, like discovering that the insurance agent next door is also world limbo-dancing champion" - lovely line.

Posted by YoBro on (October 17, 2010, 3:13 GMT)

Nice piece, Sharda! Loved it...

Posted by manasvi_lingam on (October 17, 2010, 3:10 GMT)

Since he WAS an honourable man, the name Brutus would have been good too. For, in Shakespeare's play, Brutus is recognized by everyone to be an honest and honourable man.

Posted by Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on (October 17, 2010, 3:10 GMT)

Honourable? my ass. he missed a few shots while trying to go past 334 two or three times towards the end of that day's play. All that honour entered his mind only after close of play.

Posted by BillyCC on (October 17, 2010, 3:09 GMT)

In my mind, Taylor was a shrewder captain than Steve Waugh and was the better tactician. On the other hand Steve Waugh got more fight and determination out of his players and always drove them to win. These two statements give rise to the fact that Taylor had a better series captaincy record than Waugh, but Waugh had the overall better record because he tried to win every test match he played with the same ruthlessness. Many people don't realise that Taylor only ever lost two series as captain; his first series against Pakistan when Healy missed the stumping, and against India in 1998 (not counting the one-off test in 1996). All other series were victories for Australia. Waugh also lost two series (against Sri Lanka when he broke his nose and the series that he should never have lost against India in 2001) and also drew three (against the Windies in 1999, NZ in 2001 and India in his final series as a player).

Posted by billy33200 on (October 17, 2010, 2:44 GMT)

Tails taylor was great player and they could do with him now ,sonny shaw rates him highly

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